NEWS

Snap polls look certain, Tsipras set to decide date

TAGS: Politics, Economy, Euro

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appears to have decided that Greece should hold early elections but has not yet taken a decision on when they should be, sources said on Wednesday.

Tsipras is listening to advice from government colleagues who are recommending that the polls should be held within September as well as those advocating that the snap elections should not be called before early October.

Kathimerini understands that one set of advisers is urging the prime minister to move swiftly and call a ballot for September 20 or 27 at the latest so the government can overcome the internal rift that has opened up within SYRIZA.

The other group has advised Tsipras not to consider elections before October 11 so the government has a chance to implement its new bailout agreement with lenders, build trust with them and perhaps clear the adjustment program’s first review.

“It is clear there are issues we have to deal with. We do not deny that,” said government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili.

“These are issues that have to do with the government’s stability and to what extent it is in a position to ensure that the parliamentary and governmental process flows smoothly.”

Gerovasili also turned her fire on SYRIZA’s Left Platform after its leader, former Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis, accused the government of questionable behavior in its adoption of the new memorandum of understanding with lenders and said that suggestions of “express elections reflect an undemocratic attitude.”

The spokeswoman accused the Left Platform of having decided to “overturn the government of the left.”

Her comments came shortly before the European Stability Mechanism’s board of governors announced that it had approved a three-year program of up to 86 billion euros for Greece. The first disbursement is due on Thursday.

The Finance Ministry said that it would total 13 billion euros, with around 12 billion going into a segregated account to pay off a bridge loan of 7.2 billion received last week, a 3.2-billion-euro bond held by the European Central Bank that matures on Thursday and debt obligations to the International Monetary Fund.

The remaining funds will be used for internal purposes, mostly reducing state arrears.

Tsipras also wrote to European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Wednesday to ask for the body to be included in the group of institutions monitoring Greece’s bailout.

“I deem it politically imperative that the sole European institution with direct popular mandate acts as the ultimate guarantor of democratic accountability and compatibility of economic policy in Europe,” Tsipras wrote.

The prime minister’s request will be put to the political groupings in the European Parliament when it reopens, his office said.

Online